The New York Times surprised me today by asking a relevant question, “Who Says You Can Kill Americans, Mr. President?” The article opens by explaining:
PRESIDENT OBAMA has refused to tell Congress or the American people why he believes the Constitution gives, or fails to deny, him the authority to secretly target and kill American citizens who he suspects are involved in terrorist activities overseas. So far he has killed three that we know of.
Presidents had never before, to our knowledge, targeted specific Americans for military strikes. There are no court decisions that tell us if he is acting lawfully. Mr. Obama tells us not to worry, though, because his lawyers say it is fine, because experts guide the decisions and because his advisers have set up a careful process to help him decide whom he should kill.
He must think we should be relieved.
The three Americans known to have been killed, in two drone strikes in Yemen in the fall of 2011, are Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical Muslim cleric who was born in New Mexico; Samir Khan, a naturalized American citizen who had lived in New York and North Carolina, and was killed alongside Mr. Awlaki; and, in a strike two weeks later, Mr. Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, who was born in Colorado.
Mr. Obama, regardless of the fairy tales he told everybody about opposing war, has been one of the most dangerous warmongers of our time. He continued the war in Iraq (which is still ongoing), ramped up the war in Pakistan, got American involved in a war in Libya (even though Gaddafi was previously awarded for advancing human rights in the region), has failed to wrap up the war in Afghanistan (he claims we’re leaving earlier than expected, but he’ll probably pull another Iraq and replace our forces with mercenaries), has ordered several bombings in Yemen, and involved this country in other scattered conflicts around the world. On top of engaging this country in numerous wars Mr. Obama has also ordered the assassination of American citizens, making him the first president to publicly do so.
What gives him such powers? We haven’t a clue because he refuses to even provide his justification. At the very least it would be nice to know why he thinks he can do these things. In all likelihood his justification would be something along the lines of “I’m the king so I get to kill whoever I want. Now get out of my sight before I have you executed, serf.”